Why India should avoid Carbon Neutrality targets?

Synopsis: India must reject carbon neutrality as it would lead India into a low-development trap.

Background
  • Achieving carbon neutrality by midcentury is conceived as a scientific approach to limit temperature rise by 2°C
  • According to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit(ECIU), nearly 32 countries had declared their intention to achieve carbon-neutral status by 2050.
  • Many global civil society organisations are persuading all countries, especially India, to make explicit declarations on achieving Carbon Neutrality.
  • Article 4.1 of the Paris Agreement gives impetus for pushing towards carbon-neutral economies.
    • It states that to achieve the long-term temperature goal, Parties should aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
    • Since peaking will take longer for developing countries, countries should take initiatives to achieve the removal of greenhouse gas emissions at least in the second half of this century. (Carbon Neutrality might come under this article).
    • Further, the article also mentions that this will be on the basis of equity. Apart from that, it should also aim to achieve sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.
What are the issues in achieving Carbon neutrality?
  • First, the achievement of carbon neutrality is not compatible with achieving 1.5°C or 2 °C goals of the Paris agreement. The current pledges are highly inadequate. For example,
    1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°c mentions some key points. Such as the World now left with only 480 Giga-tonnes or Gt (billion tonnes) of carbon space for restricting to 1.5 °C targets.
    2. At the current rate of emissions of about 42 Gt of CO2(GtCO2) equivalent per year. The world will reach this in just 12 years.
    3. So, to keep within the 480 Gt budget, global carbon neutrality must be reached by 2039.
  • Second, the commitments made by the US and the European Union to achieve carbon neutrality targets is not compatible with achieving the 1.5 °C or 2 °C goals. For example,
    1. In the case of the US, even if it reaches carbon neutrality by 2050, it will consume 106 GtCO2 carbon space. That is 22% of the total remaining carbon budget for the whole world.
    2. To stay within its fair share of the remaining carbon budget, the US has to reach net-zero emissions by 2025.
    3. Even then it has to owe a carbon debt of 470 GtCO2 (($14 trillion) to the rest of the world.  This is for its past usage and providing a fair share of carbon space.
    4. This is applicable to the EU also. The EU has to reach net-zero by 2033. And the EU owes the world a carbon debt of about $9.3 trillion for its past emissions.
Why India should not join Carbon Neutrality?

India has many reasons to avoid Carbon neutrality. These are,

  • First, India needs to focus on development and its aspirational goal. Though sustainable development is feasible, the question of how low India’s future carbon emission will look is highly uncertain.
  • Second, India does not owe a carbon debt to the world. Further, India’s current per capita emissions are very low compared to the developed countries. Also, India’s mitigation efforts are quite compatible with a 2 °C target.
  • Third, India has a twin burden of low-carbon development and adaptation to climate impacts. So, If India announces Carbon-neutrality now, then it will become a triple burden.

In conclusion, India should avoid announcing such carbon neutrality targets. That too, without making the developed countries liable for their past emission is risky. Further, It will also lead India into a low-development trap.

Source: The Hindu


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